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The police arrested two of the traffickers responsible for the Greek Lampedusa

16 November 2013 / 13:11:47  GRReporter
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According to the local media, the police have arrested two of the traffickers of the 27 immigrants whose boat turned upside down yesterday near Paleros opposite Lefkada. The traffickers in question are a young Greek and a 55 year-old Palestinian, who steered the boat. The police are searching houses in Etoloakarnania, another two Greeks and an Egyptian are being sought for. Reportedly, the three Greeks are brothers, originally from Konopina.

The tragedy that claimed the lives of 12 victims, including 4 children aged between 3 and 6, happened early on Friday morning in the sea near Paleros at Etoloakarnania, opposite the island of Lefkada, where the vessel, which was boarding immigrants, turned upside down. The boat was tied to the shore. Coast guard officers believe that the traffickers had forced the people to quickly set off to Italy in order to avoid being caught by the Greek authorities.

The 15 survivors have been taken to hospitals in Lefkada and Preveza, as well as in Vonitsa in order to undergo medical examinations; the autopsy of the dead is also expected.

According to the official announcement of the coast guard, early in the morning the police was informed about an overturned plastic boat (of ength of 7- 8 metres) tied at the pier near Paleros. By order of the Rescue Centre two patrol boats of the coast guard as well as police officers by land headed to the site of the accident. There, they found 15 foreigners on land in good condition and 8 bodies (4 adults and 4 children) that were taken by the patrol boats. Afterwards, 4 more bodies were discovered in the overturned boat.

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said: "The country will do whatever it takes in order to take care of the rescued people, as has always happened in Greece in such cases," in response to a question by Democratic Left MP Maria Yanakaki about problems with immigrants during the Greek Presidency of the EU. The Minister expressed regret about the loss of lives and hope for fewer losses.

Regarding illegal immigration, Dendias said that they were not trying to "beautify" the problem. The Minister said that Greece insists that the European political vocabulary should keep the term "illegal" in relation to "irregular". Violation of the Greek and European borders is punishable under Greek law, added Dendias. He explained that guilt should not be felt, since the country tries to protect its borders, because that is its right.

Meanwhile it became clear that the coast guard will be reinforced with 65 patrol cars 4Χ4 after the signing of the contract between Greek Minister of the Merchant Marine and Aegean Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and a representative of the company provider Theoharakis. In addition a competition has been announced for a public procurement with international participation. According to the coast guard, the European External Borders Fund financed 75% of the cars’ value and the state - the remaining 25% and the total amount is 1,586,715 euro. The purchase is made within Varvitsiotis’s policy in relation to the enhancement of the security of the borders of Greece and the EU. The cars are Nissan Qashqai 1.6 4Χ4 and have petrol engines utilising a new environmental technology.

Varvitsiotis himself said that EU funds, at a time when Greece doesn’t have enough resources, are a valuable tool for the renewal of the equipment of the coast guard. Despite the difficulties of the crisis, the protection of the Greek sea borders is an irrevocable duty, the minister added. 

Tags: tragedy of illegal immigrants The island of Lefkada traffickers Nikos Dendias Miltiadis Varvitsiotis
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